Oak Bay funds UWSS pilot to build on cull

Deer contraception planned for fall project, subject to permits

Oak Bay will throw some financial support behind the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society with a grant of $5,000.

UWSS came to council Monday night seeking a $10,000 grant for its Deer Plan Oak Bay – a capture-vaccinate-tag-release pilot project planned for the fall. They also hope to create a scientific deer population inventory and a better understanding of urban deer ecology and population dynamics.

“We’re asking you to bring it down to science,” said Kristy Kilpatrick, UWSS vice-president. “If we bring it down to science, that will mitigate [emotion].”

The society formed in the wake of a regional deer management strategy that included a controversial cull of 11 animals in Oak Bay. Members outlined for council the plans to utilize advice and training from its own Scientific Advisory Group, the provincial veterinarian and field experience of consultant, TerraMar Environmental Research.

They’ve secured 25 doses of the immuno-contraceptive SpayVac and submitted an application to the province for a permit to treat up to 25 deer. The provincial offering, similarly offered to Oak Bay during its cull, is equipment and technical advice for the society’s project planned for this fall. UWSS plans to use modified Clover traps as Oak Bay did during the culling process.

They expect to apply this week for the federal permit to administer SpayVac – which must be done as a study, as it’s an experimental drug.

During Monday’s meeting, Coun. Tara Ney noted that the information council was given in the past, was contraception would also require a cull in order to be effective.

It makes sense, both UWSS president Bryan Gates and Kilpatrick told council, to build on the cull already done last fall as part of the regional deer management strategy.

“You’ve done the cull, we can do the SpayVac,” Gates said. “No one knows what percentage of the females have to be treated to start reduction.”

To fund the roughly $60,000-budget Deer Plan Oak Bay, UWSS sought $10,000 from Oak Bay, and plans to seek $25,000 from the Capital Regional District and fundraise $15,000.

Oak Bay however, only has $9,000 remaining in its coffers for grants-in-aid and wound up offering $5,000 in two installments.

“I hear our community wants something done,” said Ney, who crafted a series of motions that finally came to fruition late in the evening.

After hours of back-and-forth discussion, Ney threw a motion on the table for the $10,000, with stipulations that the society appease staff concerns, get the permits and get regional support.

“What I would feel most comfortable with … would be to say reduce the amount to $5,000 but give it to them based on them receiving the funding from the CRD,” said Coun. Hazel Braithwaite. “I would still like to see some of the education part go on and the count go on.”

After further conversation and fine-tuning, Ney’s motion failed. She offered a compromise of $5,000, subject to the permits being in place, which also failed.

Coun. Eric Zhelka suggested the successful motion to halve the funds, with $2,500 now and the remainder once permits are in place.

“I think it’s a reasonable balance on this one,” said Coun. Kevin Murdoch, acting mayor in Mayor Nils Jensen’s absence. “I do believe we do have a serious deer problem in Oak Bay and I think that every year we delay doing something we risk an enormous amount of cost.”